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Cell Cycle. 2008 Nov 1;7(21):3294-301. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Gene regulation by SINES and inosines: biological consequences of A-to-I editing of Alu element inverted repeats.

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Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030-3301, USA.


The Alu elements are conserved approximately 300 nucleotide long repeat sequences that belong to the SINE family of retrotransposons found abundantly in primate genomes. Although the vast majority of Alu elements appear to be genetically inert, it has been tempting to consider the great majority of them as "junk DNA." However, a growing line of evidence suggests that transcribed Alu RNAs are in fact functionally involved in a number of diverse biological processes. Pairs of inverted Alu repeats in RNA can form duplex structures that lead to A-to-I editing by the ADAR enzymes. In this review we discuss the possible biological effects of Alu editing, with particular focus on the regulation of gene expression by inverted Alu repeats in the 3'-UTR regions of mRNAs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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